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xScrapster

Non-Inflamed Comedones Becoming Inflamed

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I've had mild acne on and off since I was 16 (I'm 20 now), it's usually just manifested itself as closed comedones mainly on my forehead with the odd few around my mouth. They would sometimes turn into pimples but the majority of the time I would say it was non-inflammatory acne. This was kept 'under control' somewhat by Zineryt. Last summer I even had a period of clear skin, for about 3 months or so.

Fast forward to the start of this year and the mild acne was back. I was worried that my dry skin was causing the comedones so I moved from my normal cleanser to Cetaphil gentle cleanser. It broke me out into horrific cysts all over my forehead and to add insult to injury it also plagued my face with closed comedones, forehead, mouth/chin and cheeks. These comedones are now slowly but surely all turning into inflamed (sometimes very painful) pimples one by one.

I don't mind this process so much because at least some are going but I still have hundreds left and I'm VERY scared of what my face is going to look like if they all become inflamed, as well as how long this process will take. The red marks left behind are all over my face.

Note - I also get these closed comedones on my back and recently on my chest, as well as a few on the tops of my legs/arms.

  • I don't eat ANY dairy
  • I avoid soy products
  • I use a gentle cleanser and a non-comodogenic moisturiser
  • I change my pillowcase every night
  • I never touch my face
  • I always tie my hair up out of my face

My question is, where do I go from here? My confidence is in tatters, I spend a lot of time sitting inside ashamed of my appearance. I'm guessing (from my online research) that I need to use some kind of retinoid to bring all of this to the surface, I'm so scared to though, I can barely cope with a couple of new pimples every day let alone all of them in one go.

Please feel free to ask any questions, I'm sure there is a lot more I could write down but I don't want to bore everyone solid!

Many thanks in advance if you read this, any advice is greatly appreciated.

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Hey xScrapster,

Your acne story sounds incredibly similar to mine. Please, please know that you are not alone in how your skin is making you feel! I really hope I can be of some help. Just a warning this is going to be a bit of an essay! Hope that's okay.

I'm 23 and I've suffered with severe acne for almost all of my life, getting progressively worse into my adult life. My acne has been truly debilitating. There have been periods of months when I would shake and couldn't leave the house for the fear of someone seeing my skin in broad daylight! It sounds ridiculous when I write it down, but I know that some people on this website will understand that pain. And God, I would love to say that I am the kind of person who could just smile, get on with it, and be happy with what I've got, but the truth is that I would cry every day about my skin. As my acne continued to worsen into my 20s, I have struggled more and more every day just to look in the mirror.

I have made many trips to the dermatologist, and spent a small fortune on products and treatments over the years, none of which have worked for me. Some of the treatments I have tried include Antibiotics (doxycycline, oxytetracycline and lymecycline), benzoyl peroxide (5% and 10%), Dan's Regimen, various Retinol treatments including Differin and Epiduo, countless over the counter treatments and washes, apple cider vinegar, manuka honey, asprin masks, you name it.

And just so you know, when I was in your position, and my once clear skin was suddenly erupting in all these tiny bumps, I went out and panic-bought a load of new skincare to try and save my face but all it did was irritate my skin leading to worse and worse breakouts. Next I did exactly what you are suggesting here, I went to the doctor and got myself a retinoid cream, to purge all that gunk out, and for me it was the most scarring (mentally and physically) experience of my life. My skin was absolutely covered in pimples and cysts, like it had never been before.
(I want to add here that I realise that retinoids work great for some people, but I just have to share my experience to encourage some caution when you are considering a topical treatment as serious as a retinoid.)

From here on I quit the retinoid and dabbled in benzoyl peroxide which made my skin dry and irritated but kept some of my pimples at bay. Eventually I had had enough of the doctors and the derms and nothing working. So recently (perhaps over the last 4 months or so) I have been doing a pretty serious health overhall. This includes transforming my diet from (what I assumed was) a relatively healthy vegan diet, to a plant based, low glycemic diet which avoids gluten entirely and limits sugar and dairy. I still eat fruits and occasionally I will eat a little organic butter for the good fats or some bio-live organic yoghurt for the probiotics.

I had begun to see my acne as a window into my body, and if my body is making my face look like this, something is out of balance.
It isn't easy to make this decision, and for years I thought there was no WAY I could not eat gluten (I loved pasta and pizza!). But it took less than one month for me to see improvements when I eliminated it from my diet. Much faster than I had ever seen improvements with any topical treatment.

Now, gluten may not be your trigger. But it is safe to say that it's incredibly common that the route cause of acne is our 21st century, heavily processed, sugary, glutenous diets. I found the best thing for me was to try an elimination diet for 6 weeks. You can read more about it here:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/elimination-diet

I just told myself, 'okay, this is a little experiment, try it for a month or so, and if it doesn't work I can cross food allergies off the list, and move onto the next issue that might be causing my acne.'

Please don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions!

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Honestly I agree with the above statement and also try doing nothing to your face, ocassianly wash it with water is say. I haven't washed my face in 5 days and I couldn't be happier with the results - I do have a bit of flakey skin but it's not as flakey as the benzol made it.

Edited by Dtwon

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Honestly I agree with the above statement and also try doing nothing to your face, ocassianly wash it with water is say. I haven't washed my face in 5 days and I couldn't be happier with the results - I do have a bit of flakey skin but it's not as flakey as the benzol made it.

I agree with this too. The "no wash" caveman regimen has had great results for so many people, me included. And it's the easiest regimen you could imagine! Although, I remember the first time I heard about it I thought it sounded absolutely crazy. Glad you are having success with it Dtwon. Are you keeping a progress log?

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Honestly I agree with the above statement and also try doing nothing to your face, ocassianly wash it with water is say. I haven't washed my face in 5 days and I couldn't be happier with the results - I do have a bit of flakey skin but it's not as flakey as the benzol made it.

I agree with this too. The "no wash" caveman regimen has had great results for so many people, me included. And it's the easiest regimen you could imagine! Although, I remember the first time I heard about it I thought it sounded absolutely crazy. Glad you are having success with it Dtwon. Are you keeping a progress log?

Im on day 5 and I created a new thread yesterday in the general discussion area. Just don't know how to deal with shaving, and going into smoothbeam tomorrow so i don't know how thats going to play out

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Thanks so much for replying, it's very helpful. You should not think you sound ridiculous at all for the way you feel, I think most of us on this forum have felt/are feeling the same way, I know I am.

I've never had clear skin, well not since I was 15 or so! I've always had these closed comedones, always, and every now and then a couple would turn inflamed etc but it wasn't an overwhelming amount and I could totally deal with it. It's just that now they are ALL turning inflamed, so I'll have 4/5 on a daily basis, it's a very difficult process, emotionally, to go through as I'm sure you can relate to.

Your retinoid story is the exact reason I haven't used one yet, I'm far too scared and I think not emotionally prepared for what may come from using one! I use as few acne products as possible in my regime, they do nothing to the uninflamed comedones and just dry out and scab the inflamed ones, making them even more obvious. I just use a gentle cleanser once/twice a day along with a light moisturiser and wear as little make up as possible.

The diet thing is a definite thought for me. As mentioned I already cut dairy a while ago and I eat as gluten free as possible but I've never cut it fully, this may just have to be the next step.

I really should've mentioned that I suffer from PCOS, but it's just very odd because I've had pretty much clear skin (apart from non-inflamed comedones) whilst I've had PCOS so that makes me question the idea that it's all down to hormones or it's more than just that. I know that with PCOS my hormone levels are constantly a bit crazy so it's likely that something has happened to my hormone levels to cause more acne than before...

Again, thank you for your replies, it really means a lot, it's so nice to just have like-minded people to talk to

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Thanks so much for replying, it's very helpful. You should not think you sound ridiculous at all for the way you feel, I think most of us on this forum have felt/are feeling the same way, I know I am.

I've never had clear skin, well not since I was 15 or so! I've always had these closed comedones, always, and every now and then a couple would turn inflamed etc but it wasn't an overwhelming amount and I could totally deal with it. It's just that now they are ALL turning inflamed, so I'll have 4/5 on a daily basis, it's a very difficult process, emotionally, to go through as I'm sure you can relate to.

Your retinoid story is the exact reason I haven't used one yet, I'm far too scared and I think not emotionally prepared for what may come from using one! I use as few acne products as possible in my regime, they do nothing to the uninflamed comedones and just dry out and scab the inflamed ones, making them even more obvious. I just use a gentle cleanser once/twice a day along with a light moisturiser and wear as little make up as possible.

The diet thing is a definite thought for me. As mentioned I already cut dairy a while ago and I eat as gluten free as possible but I've never cut it fully, this may just have to be the next step.

I really should've mentioned that I suffer from PCOS, but it's just very odd because I've had pretty much clear skin (apart from non-inflamed comedones) whilst I've had PCOS so that makes me question the idea that it's all down to hormones or it's more than just that. I know that with PCOS my hormone levels are constantly a bit crazy so it's likely that something has happened to my hormone levels to cause more acne than before...

Again, thank you for your replies, it really means a lot, it's so nice to just have like-minded people to talk to

I've never really had clear skin either. I kept my acne at bay as a teen with a topical Erythromycin solution (very similar to Zineryt) but it eventually stopped working. I did have a lucky patch of about a year when I started University (weird since I was eating like crap then!) But I think a gluten intolerance is the kind of thing you develop over a long period of exposure to gluten, which would explain why my acne slowly got increasingly out of control.

I know exactly what you mean about those closed comedones. The closed comedones I had before I got prescribed the retinoid were on my cheeks and temples, spreading down to my jaw and neck and they looked like tiny, tiny little whiteheads with gunk in them, but nothing ever came out if I squeezed at them, it would just make them inflamed the next day. I remember running my hand over my cheek every morning when I woke up just praying that they would have magically smoothed out but they felt like sandpaper!

It was this article that made the gluten thing click for me:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maura-henninger-nd/gluten-and-acne_b_2601648.html

You might want to have a bit of a search around for "gluten and acne" on google. I found a bunch of great information that was super encouraging.

How is your diet in terms of other triggers? Do you eat nuts and eggs? Or a lot of processed sugar? I think the main problem for me with eliminating dairy was that I expected that to be the only thing I had to do, but going gluten free meant not only cutting something out, but replacing it with healthy fruits and vegetables. When I quit dairy I was still eating bread, pasta and even pizza and thinking I was being healthy, but I definitely wasn't!

I'd be interested to know what specific cleanser and moisturiser you use? Have you switched them up much over the course of your acne?

I don't know too much about PCOS to be honest, so I wouldn't want to give you any incorrect advice. But, as far as hormones go, I suffered intensely painful period cramps and violent mood swings around my time of the month for a long, long time. I kind of thought that was just the way it was for everyone, but since I quit gluten I have had 3 periods with absolutely no cramps and minimal to no hormonal breakouts/freakouts.

I hope that is of some help. And don't forget you aren't alone!

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How is your diet in terms of other triggers? Do you eat nuts and eggs? Or a lot of processed sugar? I think the main problem for me with eliminating dairy was that I expected that to be the only thing I had to do, but going gluten free meant not only cutting something out, but replacing it with healthy fruits and vegetables. When I quit dairy I was still eating bread, pasta and even pizza and thinking I was being healthy, but I definitely wasn't!

I so eat eggs and nuts, a lot of them, but I always have done and notice no difference when I don't eat them. Maybe I should try cutting them out too. I also eat VERY little processed sugar, I've eaten a pretty good diet for about 2-3 years now. For snacks I'll eat dates with some almond butter, rice cakes, a bowl of steamed vegetables, fruit or as a treat I'll sometimes eat a bit of 80% + dark chocolate. I can't remember the last time I ate a chocolate bar or a bag of haribo! I don't drink any caffeine either, everything decaf.

I would be willing to try eliminating gluten but I don't know where to start!

I also get the closed comedones on my chest and my latest breakout at the start of year gave me a back FULL of them. I also get them on the tops of my arms and legs, I can't remember ever having smooth legs like most of my friends.

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Sorry to bump this back up but each and every clogged pore continues to become a nasty inflamed pimple, usually making the one next to it do the same and so on (argh)!

I don't seem to have any new ones forming but does anyone have any idea of what I could use to budge the existing ones? Is extraction (by a specialist) an option? Or a chemical peel?

Can they go without having to 'come out' as such?

Sorry again, just thought I'd give it one last go to see if anyone else had any more ideas! Thanks

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